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Happy 2018 to you, your family and friends

It is that time of year where we start January targeting our New Year’s resolutions – one of the main ones is to lose body fat.

Before you accept any monthly challenge of completing ‘X’ amount of sit ups per day, your time could be spent more productively to reach your goal of fat loss to lose the body fat around your stomach, and you have set yourself a goal of 100 sit ups each morning to achieve this. Stop right now, as there are far better methods to help you achieve your goal! Performing abdominal exercises to target fat loss on the stomach area is unlikely to work as effectively as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or even simpler, going for a walk, a gentle jog or bodyweight circuit.

It is widely believed that by performing hundreds of sit ups a day will: A: help lose body fat around our stomach. B: give us a great looking six-pack. The truth is this: doing loads of sit ups is unlikely to reduce the body fat around your stomach area (core) and might, even, cause you lower back pain. Furthermore, your six-pack is unlikely to show. Yes, a sit-up routine will improve the strength of your core, but not necessarily flatten your stomach. You will need to take steps to reduce your body fat percentage to around 12% for men and around 15% for women – then your abdominals will show – without having done any core work. If your body fat percentages stays above this, no matter how good your core strength is, they won’t show, as you can see from the picture below; the more body fat you have around your abdominals the further away they are from showing.

Studies, both recent and over 30 years ago have demonstrated that exercises targeting the core specifically through an abdominal routine: bent knee sit ups, lateral trunk flexion, leg lifts, oblique crunch, stability ball crunch, stability ball twist and abdominal crunch (2 sets of 10 repetitions 5 days a week) did not significantly reduce body fat percentage round subjects core when compared to a control group. Research has also been carried out on spot reduction on the legs. The results showed subjects reduced body fat over the whole-body by 0.7% the researchers also reported the program resulted in a reduction in trunk and arm fat mass, greater than that observed in the trained leg.

 

So what should you do?

Walking. This is a great way to get outdoors and start moving, the health recommendation if you are able able to is reach 10,000 step per day, this is roughly the equivalent of 60 minutes walking each day. Break this down into 30 minutes to and from work. How many calories will this burn? This is difficult to answer because many factors play a role, age, body mass (fat and muscle mass) and how fast you walk.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Dr Mike Mosley looked at the subject in 2012 on the Horizon: The Truth About Exercise program. The idea behind HIIT is that you exercise a a high intensity for a short period of time, at above 85% your maximal oxygen uptake, recover then repeat.  HIIT has, in recent years, emerged as a successful way to reduce fat from all over the body.  HIIT has been proven to have the same benefits as continuous moderate exercise (lower blood pressure, reduces body fat percentage, increase VO2 max, reduces the risk of strokes, and reduces the chances of cardiovascular diseases).  Furthermore, HIIT has been shown to reduce subcutaneous fat, especially abdominal fat, as well as total body mass and improve VO2max and insulin sensitivity. The obvious advantages to HIIT are that these benefits are seen after less workout time when compared to steady state exercise. The intensity of above 85%-95% maximal oxygen uptake is based on you as an individual, and based on your current fitness level. The crucial factor is to reach the target of 85% or above for your maximal oxygen uptake, which can be easily reached walking up a hill, jogging or sprinting depending on our starting level of fitness.

Home Circuits/Workout. With so many Youtube channels and fitness articles on the world wide web (some good, some bad) you can easily find something to do at home. Why not try circuit of bodyweight exercises, improving your strength and muscle mass has a positive effect on your health and well-being. When compared to each other, 10lbs of muscle burns 30 more calories than fat. Maintaining our muscle tissue is important, when we age we lose muscle tissue, slowing down our metabolism, meaning we burn less calories daily. Maintaining our body tissue is good for keeping our metabolism higher and increasing bone strength to help combat osteoporosis. Why not download one of the Body Happy Home Workouts to get you started.